A land forged from the fires of strife, blood of heroes, and touch of the gods.
Where deeds of great valor, vile evils, and blazing passions intertwine
to shape the course of elven and human history within.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Making it Real, Part 2

I edit as I write; most writers do, to some extent.  One of the reasons we write is because not only do we have a story to tell, we have a story we want to read.  And since no one else can write the story in our head, we have to write it so we can read it along with everyone else. 
So as I write each chapter (heck, sometimes each scene), I have a tendency to go back and look it over and toy with it as I read.  This is fine; it's good to do that "flash editing" as you go, simply because it keeps you in the flow of the story and thinking about how it reads.
OK, so let's say you've finished your story, done your "flash editing" and you have a completed manuscript sitting on your desk.  Now what?  Well, now the fun begins. 
If you're like me, you want to tear into it immediately and fix all those problems you KNOW are there waiting to be fixed.  If you're less compulsive, you might actually let the manuscript sit for a couple of weeks so you can look at it with fresher eyes.  Me, I give it 48 hours and then I can't keep my hands off it.  Some writers wait even longer; some write in chunks, leaving the story for weeks at a time to work on other projects.  Larry Niven, one of my favorite authors, says he can only work for a certain time on any given project then must set it aside for a while.  Whatever works for you is good; just remember, at some point, you're going to have to start at the beginning and read through the whole thing and do the dilligence of editing.
My first full pass is what I call "slash and burn"; I take out everything I can without hurting the flow of the story.  I have a tendency to repeat myself too often when I write; lots of writers do.  So I look for those phrases and sentences and passages that say the same thing I just said two pages back (or two sentences back) and whack them out.  I try to be merciless, and it's tough.  But you have to do it, for the sake of your story.  The last thing a writer wants the reader to do is lay the book aside.  Even if it's 3:00am. 
Think about how you edit; if what you do now is too tedious, work in short bursts; 5 pages, 10 pages, whatever you can make it through.  Then mark your spot and go wash the dishes.  The manuscript will be there when you're ready to start again.
Next; continuity.

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